Deeds

A deed is a document used to transfer title to real estate. A deed must be in writing and must be signed by the owner in the presence of a Notary Public, and the notary's seal must be placed on the deed. The current owner is called "the grantor." The new owner of the property is called "the grantee."

To give notice to the public that a new owner has title to the property, you must record the deed with the auditor of the county where the real estate is located. Record the deed immediately. If the deed is not recorded, the former owner can deed the property to another person, mortgage it, or cause the property to be subject to judgments and liens in favor of the former owner's creditors.

To record a deed, a Washington State real estate excise tax affidavit signed by both grantor and grantee must be filed and the real estate excise tax must be paid. The real estate excise tax is 1.78% of the sales price in most areas of King County. Some transfers, such as gifts, are exempt from real estate excise tax. The County Treasurer or a real estate attorney will know if the transfer is exempt from tax. A statutory warranty deed is the most common type of deed. By this deed, the grantor warrants that his or her title to the property is clear of all liens and claims except those stated on the deed, and promises to defend the grantee's title against any other claims against that title made by anyone else.

A special warranty deed is sometimes called a "bargain and sale" deed. This deed has a more limited warranty, that grantor has not placed any liens or claims on the property, except those stated on the deed, and promises to defend the grantee's title against any claims against that title made by persons claiming through the grantor.

A fiduciary's deed contains warranties similar to those of a special warranty deed. It is used by trustees, personal representatives of estates, and guardians to make clear that the limited warranties are only on behalf of the estate and not by the fiduciary personally.

A quit claim deed has no warranties of title and no promises to defend title. It says, in effect, that the grantor may or may not have any title to the real estate, but if grantor does, it is conveyed to the grantee.